Cameron’s latest benefit bashing speech contained all the hallmarks of this toff Government. Brutal, dishonest, incompetent and desperately out of touch, it revealed the Tories have barely changed at all since their descent into the electoral wilderness just over 15 years ago.
Just like back then, this speech was intended to cover up the sleaze that infects not just the tax dodgers who pay the Tory Party’s bills, but also David Cameron’s morally bankrupt family.
When Tories are in trouble they have a go at single mums and many of Cameron’s new welfare proposals were precision targeted in that direction. The slashing of Housing Benefit for under 25s in practice would be yet another Tory attack on women, children and those with least.
Over half of young people who claim Housing Benefit have children. Some of them will be couples, some dads, but very many will be single mums.
Couples, under the new proposals will be expected to split up and go back to mum and dad themselves. This is of course presuming they have a mum and dad. Single parents will be forced to leave the homes they’ve built for their children and instead house them in over crowded and quite possibly unbearable conditions at their parent’s flats and houses. This is assuming they have parents, who have a flat or house, and who is prepared to let them stay.
There is no details in these plans of what happens should the parents tell their children to fuck off. Are single mums, and their children, to be forced to sleep on the streets if their parents don’t like them or can’t afford to have them back in their homes?
Cameron claims these plans will not apply to anyone who has faced domestic abuse, whilst Iain Duncan Smith piped up to plead that orphans might also be protected. There are approaching 70,000 children in the care system, the vast majority of whom will start their adult lives in a housing benefit funded council flat. If they are to not face the cuts to Housing Benefits then the £2 billion, which will allegedly be saved from the proposals, already starts to shrink significantly.
But it won’t just be kids leaving care who will suffer if these vicious proposals are ever actually implemented. How does Cameron propose assessing whether domestic abuse has taken place? Does this mean physical, sexual or emotional abuse, or all three?
Will abused children only be able to escape their homes should a social services intervention have taken place, or a parent has been convicted of abuse?
Abused children don’t generally grass up their parents, at least usually not at first. They run, often at the first opportunity. For huge numbers of young people who currently live in Housing Benefit funded hostels it may take many years before they are psychologically strong enough to come to terms with the abuse and even think about taking legal action. Under David Cameron’s plans, a young woman who has been sexually abused will be forced to either begin the long and arduous process of confronting the abuser, who may be a parent, or face being sent back to continue being abused. If Josesf Fritzl is ever released he’d do well to move to the UK before starting his next family.
The other side of this brutal coin are the children who leave home because the relationship with their parents or step-parents has broken down completely. This can take years for families to fix. The only escape for these kids will be to formally allege some form of abuse. At the most vulnerable time in a troubled family’s development, Cameron wants to drive a meat cleaver between children and their parents. Those unable to continue living at home will be forced into make some kind of case against their parents to government busy-bodies in the hope of being permitted to access meagre Housing Benefit payments.
Many commentators have pointed out that huge numbers of Housing Benefit claimants are actually working. With wages at an all time low for young people it is clear that even finding work will be no way to escape a damaging home life. Cameron has made this very clear. Work is not the answer after all. There is no deserving poor anymore.
But every policy should also be judged on how it will affect the most vulnerable. Abused children, those from fractured families, single mums nursing new born babies, young people with mental health conditions – these are just some of the people who will find themselves on the streets should these policies ever be implemented.
Cameron is burying his head in the sand over the upcoming homelessness crisis. Come the next election it is quite likely to be top of the agenda and these plans will be long forgotten. Yesterday’s speech was a botched attempt at clawing back some degree of credibility with swivel eyed right wingers after a string of shambolic policy u-turns. With even The Sun rejecting the proposals, Cameron now looks as out of touch as ever.
It is quite possible that Cameron’s plan to cut housing benefit for those under 25 will never see the light of day. But with communities still reeling from last year’s riots, this is an irresponsible and downright foolish provocation. Not content with forcing the young unemployed to work for free and destroying the educational chances of all but the wealthy, Cameron now wants to remove the one safety net available for the most vulnerable young people.
It’s been questioned why young people should be forced to pay tax if they aren’t to receive the same protections in society as everyone else. The real question, as the young face a sustained attack on both their current living standards and their futures, is why should they feel they have any stake in this society at all. With increasingly little left to lose, the rage of the abandoned working class youth will resonate with ferocity throughout the generations to come.